When we think of children, we imagine tiny tots, vibrant and full of life. Blissful souls, self-assured, bubbling with confidence, yet to face life’s realities. However, as children grow up and interact with people around them, some interactions boost their confidence and motivate them, while others downright discourage and demotivate them. Children must be taught early that such experiences are part of life. They need to consider such interactions only as a stepping stone to empower themselves.
But first, what does empowerment mean, when it comes to children? It means, helping children become aware of their capabilities; and helping them take charge of their lives. The earlier children are empowered, the more resilient they become to face adversities in the future. Such children (when they become adults) find within them, the ability to surmount obstacles, confidently, and become the best version of themselves. So how do we raise empowered children? Soulveda lists a few ways.
Master the art of listening
A child seldom needs a good talking to as a good listening to. – Author Robert Brault
Perhaps, one of the easiest ways to empower children is by simply lending our ears to them. In developmental psychology, listening to a child is referred to as ‘holding a child’s mind in mind’. By simply listening, researches show that children feel valued. Their emotions too become well-regulated, which improves their self-image and self-worth.
So, what does it take to master the art of listening? As paediatrician Claudia M Gold writes in the book The Silenced Child, “True listening comes from a stance of “not knowing,” in which we are open to imagining our way into another’s feelings, even when they are not our own.” As she further writes, it requires us to be mindful of our children’s difficult and intense feelings, while at the same time conveying a feeling of support and safety.